Senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half, including late 3-pointers to complete Marquette's second half rally over Pittsburgh, 62-57, Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
Johnson-Odom scored eight of the Golden Eagles' final 10 points and was able to answer a career-high 29 points from Pittsburgh's Ashton Gibbs. It was Marquette's second consecutive Big East home win and moved the Golden Eagles to 3-2 in conference, while the Panthers remain winless at 0-5.
Following a jumper from Gibbs to pull Pittsburgh within three with under four minutes to play, Johnson-Odom took a pass from point guard Junior Cadougan and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to extend Marquette's lead. The next possession, following Pittsburgh's Nasir Robinson's seventh turnover of the game, the Panthers lost track of Johnson-Odom, who nailed a wide-open 3-pointer to give Marquette a nine-point lead.
Gibbs scored six straight on three free throws and a 3-pointer to keep the game close in the final minutes, but sophomore Davante Gardner grabbed a long offensive rebound and hit two free throws to close out the game.
The first half belonged to Gibbs and the Panthers as they forced Marquette into nine turnovers and scored seven second chance points on seven offensive rebounds. Gibbs scored 14 as the Panthers took a 29-24 lead into halftime.
For the second consecutive game, Marquette's offensive rhythm was thrown out of sync because of early foul trouble. Senior Jae Crowder and Gardner both picked up two fouls in the opening half, combining for just five points on 2-of-7 shooting.
Marquette forced seven turnovers in the first half but committed nine of their own.
"All of our offensive numbers are really good. We force teams into 17 turnovers a game. That's not great, but it's above average," Marquette head man Buzz Williams said. "The thing we've got to minimize is our turnovers. And some of our turnovers are too careless. So if we can shave two or three off of that, that'd really help us."
The two teams went back and forth to open the second half but following a J.J. Moore jumper to give Pittsburgh a 41-36 lead, Marquette scored 16 of the next 19 points to take an eight-point lead with six minutes to play.
During that stretch, Pittsburgh was out of sorts bringing the ball up the court while attempting to break Marquette's 1-2-2 zone. The Panthers turned the ball over five times in that stretch, resulting in seven points for Marquette.
"When you think about when we were playing small, we are small in size, but we're long in athleticism and long in speed," Williams said. "I think we have to utilize that to our advantage, and I thought with what we were doing within the full-court pressure, that the guys did really good with that."
Five of those points came on successive possessions from freshman guard Todd Mayo, who made two transition layups after steals from Johnson-Odom and Cadougan, the second of which he drew a foul and made his free throw.
A three-pointer from freshman guard John Johnson and a jumper from Robinson pulled Pittsburgh within three before Johnson-Odom went on his run to close the game.
With the win Marquette moved to 3-2 in conference play and will host the No. 15 Louisville Cardinals on Monday afternoon. The Cardinals (14-4, 2-3) defeated the DePaul Blue Demons 76-59 this afternoon.
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